Immigration reform urged
Voters in Colorado and across the United States want changes to the nation’s immigration system, even if they also believe the existing system is being misused, Club 20 leaders and others said Wednesday.
“We believe it’s imperative that we have a system that allows workers to be in this country legally,” said Bonnie Petersen, executive director of Club 20, the West Slope lobbying and advocacy organization, in a conference call with West Slope reporters.
For a farmer who is eyeing his fast-ripening sweet corn, the stakes are immediate
John Harold, of Tuxedo Farms in Olathe, said nature has dictated that his Olathe Sweet Corn crop be harvested beginning July 20 or 21.
“The problem is, my labor’s not here,” Harold said.
That’s a result of Congress’ inability to pass an immigration measure, leaving him — and other farmers — hanging, Harold said.
He struck a deal via U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., that will likely make it possible for him to harvest, Harold said.
“But why as a taxpayer should I have to go to my senator’s office to get a bureaucrat to do their job?” Harold said.
Harold’s major complaint involved the H2A program, which would be replaced in a measure passed by the Senate with a program that would allow farmers like Harold to make three-year arrangements with foreign workers, who could travel to the United States with their families.
“It’s just better for everyone,” Harold said.
The House, however, hasn’t put the Senate measure to a vote.
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., has made border security a necessary first step in immigration reform, his office said.
Tipton’s 3rd Congressional District was targeted by the Partnership for a New American Economy, which surveyed 1,000 voters nationally between June 24 and 28. Harper Polling Inc. conducted polling in individual states between June 2 and July 3 with sample sizes ranging from 500 to 855. The margins of error range from 4.0 to 4.38 percent.
Key in Colorado, Petersen said, was the finding that 62 percent of Republicans, 80 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of unaffiliated voters would support an immigration reform plan “that secures our borders, expands visas for high-skill workers and farm workers, provides an employer verification program, allows young persons brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents an opportunity to earn citizenship, and provides visas to live and work here legally to undocumented immigrants without a criminal record who pay penalties and back taxes.”
The poll was sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Partnership for a New American Economy, Business Roundtable, the American Farm Bureau Federation, AmericanHort, the National Association of Manufacturers, and Western Growers.
The survey also found that 89 percent of respondents said the immigration system was in need of repair and 65 percent said the country is heading in the wrong direction.
Nationally, 72 percent said no when asked whether the Obama administration’s enforcement of existing laws “was a reason not to fix the problems that exist within current laws. Is that concern a valid reason for Congress not to act?”
Thousands of unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border weighs heavily on immigration issues, said Club 20 Chairman Les Mergelman.
Congressional direction is needed to decide how those minors should be handled, Mergelman said.
“We’re a natural magnet for immigration,” Mergelman said, adding that the nation must decide how to deal with it.
DENVER — A Colorado judge on Wednesday struck down the state’s gay marriage ban, making him the 16th judge to invalidate a state’s prohibition on same-sex marriages in the past year.
District Judge C. Scott Crabtree put his ruling on hold pending an appeal, but wrote that the provisions in Colorado law clearly violate the state and U.S. constitutions. “There is no rational relationship between any legitimate governmental purpose and the marriage bans,” he wrote.
The decision came in two lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Colorado’s law, which was passed by voters in 2006.
The ruling will be appealed by Attorney General John Suthers’ office, which defended the ban. The case is the 16th in a row in which a state ban was voided by a judge following last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
“Every time we find the constitution protects individuals, it is a victory for everybody,” said John McHugh, who argued the case for the plaintiffs and said they will try to ensure appeals go directly to the Colorado Supreme Court. “We will do everything we can do to fast-track this and get marriage licenses issued in every county in Colorado.”
Kris McDaniel-Miccio, one of the 18 plaintiffs in the case and a law professor at the University of Denver, said she had anticipated a favorable ruling but was still ecstatic.
“It’s validation,” she said. “I have wanted this validation my whole life.”
In a separate challenge to a gay marriage ban in Utah, a three-judge panel of the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry. On Wednesday, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes’ office announced it will appeal that decision directly to the nation’s highest court.
The 10th Circuit covers Colorado and five other states. Its gay marriage ruling also is on hold pending appeal.
The Colorado attorney general’s office on Wednesday urged a judge in Boulder to forbid the clerk in that county from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall began issuing the licenses after the 10th Circuit panel ruled two weeks ago, despite the legal stay on that decision. Hall argues the appellate ruling already legalized gay marriage in Colorado.
In a statement released after the Crabtree ruling, Suthers said the issue will remain unsettled until the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in. He and the state’s governor, John Hickenlooper, have already asked a federal court to freeze all state-level gay marriage litigation until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the legality of same-sex marriage ban.
“While the legal debate regarding same-sex marriage continues, and many find the legal process frustrating, adherence to the rule of law will bring about the final resolution with the greatest certainty and legal legitimacy,” Suthers said.